As I have often lectured in this space, much of what makes for an effective email has less to do with deliverability, mobile compatibility, social media functionality, and all the technical bells and whistles that most people fret about, and more about basic direct response principles such as a strong subject line and a compelling offer.
As an example, see the email below from Novell (via Ziff Davis) inviting the reader to a free Webinar. At a basic level, Novell has a compelling message going for it, one that should resonate well in these tough times: Save 50 percent on enterprise Linux support costs. Unfortunately, however, that message is wasted in an email that reads as an invitation not to an informative event on how to cut IT costs, but rather a lecture on why you should buy your Linux from Novell.
Separately, and compounding the issue, the subject line (“Like to cut your Linux support costs in half?”) breaks a cardinal rule in email marketing, namely: don’t use Yes/No questions in subject lines (or headlines for that matter). Why bother asking someone whether they want to cut support costs in half? Why not just tell them? Eliminate the “Like to” and just run with:
“Cut your Linux support costs in half”
“Learn how to cut Linux support costs by 50 percent”
(Numbers resonate more readily with readers, and spelling out “percent” has shown to be more effective than using the % symbol.)
On a positive note, the headline “Technical Expert shows how to slash 50% off enterprise Linux support” highlights the key selling point, albeit in a confused way (I think it’s the cost of the support that’s being slashed, not the support itself.) Date, time, and call to action are all prominent and above the fold. All good; ignoring, for the time being, the gratuitous stock illustration that does nothing for the overall message.
Then things go downhill fast. The Yes/No question is repeated once again, and then lo and behold I discover the Webinar’s true colors. This is not, after all, an opportunity for me to learn how to cut support costs. Instead, I’m going to spend an hour listening to someone describe why I should do business with Novell.
By all means imply that doing business with your company is the way to realize the benefits described in the invitation. But don’t make learning about why people should buy product from you the reason to attend. Here, every single bullet point is basically either a why or how to switch to Novell:
* How to do a successful migration to our product
* How to obtain support for your current product while you transition to us
* A proven approach for making the switch to our company …
You couldn’t invent a more heavy-handed approach. Novell missed a giant opportunity for explaining the merits of considering Linux alternatives, the pitfalls to avoid, how to choose a vendor, etc., all of which would have worked to entice IT professionals interested in saving costs wherever they can. Instead, most of the copy is one turn-off after another because registering for the Webinar seems to be pre-conditioned upon having already decided to do business with Novell.
All in all, a great message lost in translation en route to a shabby execution.
For more tips on how to improve the success of your Webinar campaigns, download a free copy of our white paper on “Top 10 Tips for Webinar Invitation Success.”
Howard I love it! I hope you are planning to write a book of these. I’ve never seen anyone give such pithy, specific and well reasoned critiques. I learn so much from reading them. Beats all those blogs that tell but don’t show.